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statements about gambling

statements about gambling

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Published by: Sheruel Guboc Matalandang on Feb 04, 2011
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Social Statements|Economic Life|Gambling Study  Return to table of contents Introduction Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5 Session 6 
Introduction
 
The Gambling Picture
 When you think about gambling, what picture do you see? If you are a legislator or businessleader in a depressed area, you might see Tunica County, Mississippi. Once called "America'sEthiopia" because of its oppressive poverty and high unemployment, Tunica now has thrivingcasinos, almost no unemployment, and new tax revenues that have built roads and publichousing. If you are worried about funding for education, you might think of Georgia, Ohio or sixteen other states, which dedicate profits from their state lotteries for public schools. If you arean American Indian, you might see the Mashantucket Pequot of Connecticut, whose Foxwoodscasino brings in nearly one billion dollars a year -- money that can be distributed to tribemembers, or spent on nursing homes, recreation centers, or to establish economic independencefor the tribe. Or if you are someone looking for an exciting place to take your family on vacation,you might think of Las Vegas, with its new theme parks and kids' play rooms alongside rows of slot machines.These are the new pictures of gambling, but they stand uneasily alongside a whole set of different and more troubling images. If you are a restaurant owner near a casino, you might seeyour business closed and your employees laid off, because you couldn't compete with the cut-rate meals casinos use to attract customers. If you live in one of the cities that allows riverboatgambling, you might have seen your taxes rise or your neighbors lose their jobs when theriverboat left for a less-restrictive state. If you live in a poor community, you might see your friends seduced by the government's promise that the lottery is "Your ticket out," even thoughthe odds are hopeless. If you work in a casino child care center, you might see the same children-- sometimes even infants -- left with you night after night, while their parents gamble into themorning hours. Or if you have a husband or wife, parent or child who is addicted to gambling,you might have seen your family driven into bankruptcy or broken apart, and your loved onesunk deep in depression, or perhaps even tempted to commit suicide. No matter what picture we see (and it is probably a blend of the good and bad) one fact is clear:gambling surrounds us to an unprecedented -- and increasing -- extent. Just over thirty years ago,gambling was largely illegal and certainly distant from most of our daily lives. In 1963, no statehad a lottery and only one state permitted casinos (though many allowed betting on horse or dograces). By 1996, however, only Hawaii and Utah prohibited all forms of gambling. Thirty-seven
 
states and the District of Columbia ran state lotteries, and twenty-seven states allowed casinos.Gamblers legally wagered over $586 billion in 1996, earning states, American Indian tribes, andcasino operators nearly $48 billion. Few doubt that these numbers will continue to increase, atleast for the foreseeable future. And with gambling now available on the internet, it will reachmore people than ever.
Thinking Together about Gambling
 The decade since the American Lutheran Church statement "Gambling and the Public Good" hasseen rapid change in the place of gambling in our society. More forms of gambling are availablein more communities. Gambling interests wield significant political clout, and governmentsdepend on the revenue gambling generates. In addition, popular acceptance of gambling hasincreased dramatically. Not so long ago, most people regarded gambling as immoral; now, mostregard gambling as an acceptable form of recreation. These changes have not come withoutcosts, however, and opponents of legalized gambling warn of even greater consequences if thesetrends are not reversed. In light of the expanding scope and popular acceptance of gambling,Christians cannot avoid questions about their own participation in and attitudes toward gambling.
 Is gambling an inherently sinful activity?
 
 May Christians work in the gambling industry?
 
 How should Christians exercise their political citizenship in matters relating to gambling?
 
 How should Christian communities respond to gambling 
?
  No one should doubt that Christians will give different answers to these questions. Unlikeadultery, which Holy Scripture clearly forbids, the Bible does not speak directly to gambling.Christian analysis and discussion of gambling will be guided by the Bible, the Church's historyand tradition, and the gift of human reason; and yet faithful Christians can disagree about theconclusions we draw from these guides. But the possibility of difference should not keep us fromhaving a serious conversation about gambling. Indeed, with the accelerating pace of gambling'sspread, one of the most significant -- and perhaps even distinctive -- things that the Christiancommunity can do is to pause for reflection and discussion.As recognized in the 1991 ELCA Social Statement, "The Church in Society: A LutheranPerspective," part of a congregation's role is to be a "community of moral deliberation."
Christians fulfill their vocation diversely and are rich in the variety of gifts of the Spirit.Therefore, they often disagree passionately on the kind of responses they make to social questions. United with Christ and all believers in baptism, Christians welcome and celebratetheir diversity. Because they share common convictions of faith, they are free, indeed obligated,to deliberate together on the challenges they face in the world.
 This study is designed to provoke and guide discussion of gambling. It is divided into sixsegments, each of which can serve as the basis for a one hour class. The first part providesintroductory information about gambling and its growth in the United States. The second offers a
 
framework for Christian analysis of gambling, drawing on scripture and moral principles. Thethird segment looks at the problem of compulsive gambling. The fourth focuses on statesponsored gambling, especially lotteries. The fifth examines arguments about gambling'srelationship to the economic common good. And the sixth part looks at the special issues raised by gambling on American Indian reservations.Social Statements|Economic Life|Gambling Study  Return to table of contents Introduction Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5 Session 6 
S
ession 1:
 D
efining Gambling 
  Nearly every day, we hear people use the language of gambling to describe the ordinary risks of our lives. Pedestrians "gamble with their lives" when they cross busy streets. Farmers "bet on theweather" in deciding when to plant or harvest. Investors "hedge their bets" and buy a widevariety of stocks. Although these uses are common, we need to understand why none of theserisks is properly called "gambling." As the 1984 ALC Statement "Gambling and the PublicGood" describes it, gambling requires three elements:
1) a
valuable consideration
, mutually risked in the hope of 
 
2
) winning a
 significant prize
, which is awarded
 
3
) not primarily for skill or ability but largely by the
caprice of chance
.Looking at a lottery helps us to see these three elements. You buy a ticket (consideration), inhopes that certain numbers will be selected at random (chance), so you can win the jackpot(prize). The same elements are present in all gambling, from slot machines to bingo, from poker to black jack, and from betting on football games to horse races.To better understand what is -- and what is not -- gambling, we need to take a closer look at eachof the three elements.
1. Consideration
To gamble means to voluntarily risk losing something that you value -- whether it is a quarter someone drops into a slot machine, a ten-dollar wager placed on a horse race, or a stack of chips

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